Vatican City (AsiaNews) – One of the main results of the visit on 9-15 June to the South Asian country by a Vatican delegation made up of Mgr Pietro Parolin, undersecretary of relations with states, Mgr Luis Mariano Montemayor, nunciature adviser at the Secretariat of State, and Mgr Barnabé Nguyên Phuong, bureau chief at the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, is the decision to set up a working group charged with setting the timing and procedures to normalise diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Vietnam, this according to a statement released by the Vatican today.
In their meetings with Vietnamese authorities, especially with the Committee for Religious Affairs, presided by Chairman Nguyên Thê Doanh in a “frank and cordial atmosphere”, Vatican representatives addressed issues that are crucial for the life of the Church like Episcopal appointments, the gradual restitution of nationalised property to Church use, the application of regulations on religious freedom, the contribution of Catholics to human promotion, the spreading of a culture of solidarity towards the weakest groups of the population, and the moral education of future generations.”
The delegation was also received by Pham Gia Khiem, deputy prime minister and minister for foreign affairs “with whom views were exchanged on the current international situation with reference, above all, to the seat as a non- permanent member of the U.N. Security Council that Vietnam will occupy for the first time this July.”
The members of the delegation also noted “the increasingly important role the country is playing in the community of nations, in the regional context and in terms of possible collaboration with the Holy See in peace and in the spiritual and material development of the world.”
Similarly, they “raised the issue of the much hoped-for normalisation of bilateral relations that will soon be addressed by a working group for the purpose of establishing their timing and procedures, matters also discussed during a meeting with the Nguyên Huy Quang, deputy chairman of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam.”
The delegation also met with Nguyên The Thao, chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee. With him they discussed “events that involved numerous faithful from the archdiocese at the end of last year and the beginning of 2008,” the so-called protest prayers during which Hanoi Catholics peacefully demonstrated in favour of the return to Church control of the compound that once housed the former nunciature.
The statement added that “consideration was given (as it has been on various other occasions) to the importance of continuing to pacify the situation, avoiding measures that may create contrary effects, and maintain dialogue between interested parties in the search for adequate solutions that take into account the needs of justice, of charity and of the common good.”
“Mr Thao, whose function is similar to that of a capital’s mayor, said he truly hoped that the Catholic community can actively participate in Hanoi’s millennium celebrations, set for 2010”.
The delegation “expressed its gratitude to provincial authorities in Quang Tri for their decision to return land around the Marian shrine of La Vang to Church use, and for their willingness to work with the archdiocese of Huê to solve problems related to the decision’s implementation.”
“Finally, the delegation travelled to the ecclesiastic districts of Đà Lat and Huê. In the atmosphere of lively faith and deep ecclesial communion that characterise such meetings it celebrated the Eucharist with prelates from Đà Lat, My Tho, Nha Trang and Huê, receiving signs of profound affection for and fidelity to the Holy Father.”
“The visit and the Holy Mass at the Marian shrine of La Vang were particularly moving. At the shrine the delegation left an artistic monstrance as a gift from Pope Benedict XVI and prayed with all the participants from the archdiocese of Huê, other dioceses in Vietnam and abroad so that the place, so dear to Vietnamese Catholics and venerated even by non-Catholics, may become ever more a centre of unity and reconciliation for all the inhabitants of that beloved country, without ethnic, religious or political distinction.”